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Letters to the Editor for the week of November 21

The elephant in the room As [Protect our Winter Canada board chair] Mike Douglas so succinctly stated: "It doesn't matter if we're perfect here in Whistler.
Snow is seen on Blackcomb Mountain's 7th Heaven summit on Tuesday, Sept.17, via the resort's mountain cams. Screenshot courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

The elephant in the room

As [Protect our Winter Canada board chair] Mike Douglas so succinctly stated: "It doesn't matter if we're perfect here in Whistler. If no one around us is taking action and being affected by what we're doing, then it's all for nothing." ("Where is the money?", Pique, Nov. 14, )

He also indicated that Whistler is uniquely positioned as a wealthy, global community to actually assert some influence on a global scale.

The greatest influence Whistler can have is politically, wielding its outsized influence beyond the city limits.

Indeed, the Resort Municipality of Whistler has already made a stab at this with its well-publicized letters to the oil patch. No need to dwell on that—after all, everyone makes mistakes, but there is also no need to run away from that unique opportunity and obligation either just because the first effort didn't play out so well.

Especially when—something that seemed to have slipped past Alberta's attention last year—the biggest employer and most iconic cultural beacon in the valley, (Vail Resorts) funded the Trump Republicans into power, and asserts that it will do it again—and not a single Whistler elected official will say boo about it (Powder Magazine reported that Vail Resorts Political Action Committee sent thousands of dollars to the campaigns of stalwart climate change deniers). Despite the fact it would cost nothing in the municipal budget!

The cost that no one is willing to take is not in dollars. Pointing fingers way over at the oil patch seemed cost-free, which is exactly why they did it. Pointing out the elephant hogging the centre of your very own room is something else altogether. That is a budget item unlikely to pass the moral courage test.

Bruce Kay // Powell River

Reconsider the parent pass option

I want to express my disappointment in how Vail Resorts is handling the parent-pass program.

The purpose of the program is to help local Sea-to-Sky families afford passes in order to share their passion for the mountains with their children.

It helps to foster the next generation of skiers and snowboarders that will inevitably be the ones who support and help to grow the industry in the future.

By systematically eliminating the program through disqualifying people who really deserve the support, Vail Resorts is furthering elitism in the sport.

I know so many parents who would buy passes and lessons for their children if the program were available to them.

I grew up in Whistler and I feel like I am constantly being pushed away from my home by affordability [issues]. This program should not only be available to people who have had it in the past, it should not be phased out. 

I've had the parent pass for the past three years. This year when I went to purchase my son's ski school program and our passes, I was told that the parent pass was no longer available as the cutoff was in September. 

I was unaware of the early cutoff as all the emails concerning it went to the promotions folder of my email, which I never check. I was told to contact pass administration and they would likely be able to sort it out for me. In the past the pass has auto-renewed.

Pass administration informed me that I now no longer qualify for a parent pass and will not qualify in the future. I feel this is unfair. I have had a season pass in Whistler since 1983 (36 years), I have a five-year-old and a one-year-old. I am a chef and avid skier. I grew up ski racing in the Blackcomb ski club. I went to Whistler's high school.

I am not asking for special treatment. I just want to buy a parent pass, a pass that many other people were able to buy.

I am so disappointed.

Stefan Vagelatos // Whistler

Grateful for funding

Families Fighting Cancer In The Sea To Sky (FFCSS) is excited to announce that we have been awarded $13,700 from Whistler's 100 Women Who Care, a community organization that quarterly donates $100 from each member to a local non profit.

We are thrilled and grateful! Now with this generous donation, we are able to expand our mandate from being able to offer assistance only to Sea to Sky families with cancer to being able to help all individuals in the Sea to Sky corridor living with cancer.

Eligible recipients can use funds to help pay for expenses associated with treatment or palliative care and through the first year of post-treatment recovery.

In 2015, when FFCSS was founded, co-founders Lisa Geddes and Michelle Williamson had a dream of being able to offer assistance to anyone living in the corridor facing cancer. However, it started small not knowing what sort of demand there may be. For the last five years, FFCSS has supported 30-plus parents or dependent children living with cancer. Now, with the additional funding, a two-year pilot project will offer assistance to all residents fighting cancer within the Sea to Sky community.

Thank you to all the 137 Whistler Women Who Care for helping to make this expanded reach possible!

Michelle Williamson and Lisa Geddes // Whistler

Alta Lake Road housing proposal not in best interests of community

The Empire Club Development Corp. is wiggling carrots on sticks, so that its project [to build 15 new three-bedroom employee-housing-restricted townhomes and 22 three-bedroom market-tourist-accommodation townhomes on 5298 Alta Lake Rd.] might get the go-ahead.

One carrot offered is the restoration of the Hillman cabin (a.k.a. Toad Hall) to which I say, like Woodstock, some things are best left to what's left of our memories.

Another carrot ("Questions abound," Pique, Oct. 31) is "the dedication of a riparian and tree preservation area along the foreshore and rail line." There are already strict riparian rules on the other side of the lake, so this is not an unusual offering.

The biggest carrot being dangled is the proposal of a "future Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) employee-housing parcel adjacent to the existing Nita lake Resident Housing."

Sounds great, but will it come to pass, once the Empire Club has had its way with development? To sweeten the deal is the proposal for 15 employee-housing units, which sounds pretty good until you read further that eight of those are for the benefit of Empire staff.

Let's do the math: With seven units of actual "employee housing" being added to the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) it's going to take a long time to reach Mayor Jack Crompton's target of 1,000 employee beds. One wonders how the eight units built for the benefit of the developers' staff can be allowed to jump the queue ahead of those applicants waiting patiently for years for WHA housing.

Garry Watson and G.D. Maxwell are major [supporters] of Cheakamus Crossing [for employee housing]. The land owned by the Resort Municipality of Whistler is readily available. The issue for both Cheakamus Crossing and 5298 Alta Lake Rd. is that of increased traffic. Let's face it. If you travel the south end of the valley, how much time have you spent in gridlock traffic at the end of the day?

When we look at the potential developments for resident-restricted units in both Cheakamus Crossing and Rainbow (both of which have much better public transit options than a development at 5298 Alta Lake Rd., and a better ratio for WHA units), and Rainbow, which has built-in infrastructure of [a grocery store], liquor store and coffee outlet, it makes the Nita Lake proposal seem a less beneficial location.

The Whistler Official Community Plan (OCP) is straightforward. Under 4.13.2, proposed OCP amendments or rezonings that increase the bed-unit capacity of the municipality will only be considered if the development: provides clear and substantial benefits to the community and the resort; is supported by the community, in the opinion of the council; and will not cause unacceptable impacts on the community, resort, or environment.

Ross Depner's original rezoning (2002) for the property at 5298 Alta Lake Rd. was for a much more intimate London Lodge (seven suites total), complete with 25 rustic cabins discretely arranged amongst the existing trees, and an artist-in-residence arrangement at the Hillman cabin. The current proposal is an extra 18,000 sq. ft.— a huge increase to the existing allowable footprint.

Cheryl Green (Letter to Editor, Pique, Oct. 24) stated clearly, that this project "is inconsistent in terms of density and visual impact with the neighbourhoods currently on the shores of Nita Lake." Her concern to preserve the trees of "this very sensitive lakeside area" is well taken. It would be a sad day for all concerned if, inadvertently, the trees were taken down, with apologies all around. Apologies can't grow old trees. (OCP 6.4.2: Mature stands of timber and riparian habitats must be protected.)

While private-developer projects might seem a welcome idea to the hard-working RMOW council as a means-to-an-end of how to accomplish housing, I think Mayor Crompton's intuition ("Council tackles housing projects," Pique, Sept. 17) is on track two-fold, that RZ1157, 5298 Alta Lake Rd. is not a "great location for tourist accommodation" and that there should be "more employee housing and less market housing." I also agree with G.D. Maxwell's notion ("Misguided proposal," Pique, Oct. 22) that one of the developers, however hard-working, may "seek to profit from opportunities they were involved in creating," as former chair of the WHA, and part of the Mayor's Task Force on Resident Housing.

I have been extremely lucky to share a family home next to Nita Lake since 1965, first in Alpine Village, then at Nita Ridge and for the past 30 years at Boulder Ridge. While change is part of life, I encourage the mayor and council to have the courage to represent the residents of Whistler by listening to the respected voices I've mentioned in this letter, who are speaking on behalf of valley residents who are desperate for suitable housing, and appropriate land use.

Here is a chance to question whether this project provides clear and substantial benefits to the community.

Sally Quinn, with Alan Burns // Roberts Creek / Whistler

The beat goes on

Life can change in the blink of an eye and most of you reading this know that.

My husband, Shayne, and I recently experienced a life event that shook us up. After feeling chest pain for a few weeks, Shayne finally let me make him an appointment with a doctor.

We learned that he was having a minor heart attack, which was a huge shock to us both (he's 43 years old). He was taken from the Pemberton Health Centre to St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

We spent the next three weeks there while Shayne waited for and recovered from quadruple bypass surgery. Not living near the hospital added a layer of stress but knowing that he was in good hands helped us get through this crisis.

Shayne is finally back in Pemberton recovering and we still have a long way to go.

The level of love, care and support that we have received from the community (friends, colleagues, neighbours, strangers, health practitioners and beyond) has left us speechless, which is a rare occurrence for me. I wanted to drop a note to all of you amazing humans to thank you for being in our lives.

This experience has been both taxing and humbling, but your compassion has helped us to navigate this chapter of our lives.

A huge thank you goes out to everyone who donated money, gift cards, time and professional services because it has really helped us out.

If you aren't feeling like yourself or just don't feel 100-per-cent awesome, go to the doctor. Your health and your life are so important to both you and everyone around you. 

Blair Kaplan Venables // Pemberton